Being honest, I was a little apprehensive about teaching abroad. I didn’t really know much about the Asian schooling system, and had no idea what to expect. On the other hand, the new experience also excited me, and I was intrigued to find out what was in store.
The school is situated in a little village called Lolei, which is a really nice contrast to the busy streets of Siem Reap. The village is surrounded by rice fields, and you really feel like a part of the community. The locals are very friendly and welcoming, especially the children, and I really felt that our help was appreciated.
There are obvious differences between the children here and those back at home. In general, they’re a lot more respectful, and actually want to be there. The thought of being sent home puts any child on their best behaviour- though they will certainly let you know about it when you’re into the last ten minutes of the lesson. One of the first things I noticed, that caught me off guard was how neat their handwriting is, and conquering the language barrier was far easier than I expected- though still proved its challenges!
Of course, there are some traits children will bear regardless of where you are in the world. No matter how hard you try, the sound cannot be switched off for more than five minutes, sitting still is a near impossible task, and there is something indescribably hilarious about the word poo. They may be cute for the first five minutes, but they are also completely exhausting, and primary school teachers everywhere deserve more respect.
Despite the chaos, I feel that teaching has been a very rewarding experience, especially seeing the children’s improvements each week. Knowing I’ve contributed to their education even just a tiny bit feels really good, and it’s amazing to think that some may have a better life because of it.
One of my favourite parts of the placement is travelling to and from the village every day. It’s difficult not to have a smile your face, waving at excited kids as they chase your tuk-tuk up the road shouting “Teachaa!” Time seems to pass by so quickly, yet I feel like I’ve been here for months. Although I’m looking forward to moving on to the next stage of my travels, the teaching has definitely been a unique and rewarding experience, and I’m glad I got to be a part of it